EP0167172A2 - Overcurrent protection circuit - Google Patents

Overcurrent protection circuit Download PDF

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Publication number
EP0167172A2
EP0167172A2 EP85108366A EP85108366A EP0167172A2 EP 0167172 A2 EP0167172 A2 EP 0167172A2 EP 85108366 A EP85108366 A EP 85108366A EP 85108366 A EP85108366 A EP 85108366A EP 0167172 A2 EP0167172 A2 EP 0167172A2
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Prior art keywords
transistor
circuit
set forth
overcurrent protection
protection circuit
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EP85108366A
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German (de)
French (fr)
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EP0167172B1 (en
EP0167172A3 (en
Inventor
Kazuhiro Sato
Hiroyoshi Mori
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Fujitsu Ltd
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Fujitsu Ltd
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Priority to JP59137966A priority patent/JPH0522452B2/ja
Priority to JP140922/84 priority
Priority to JP59140922A priority patent/JPS6122718A/en
Priority to JP140921/84 priority
Priority to JP59140921A priority patent/JPS6122717A/en
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02HEMERGENCY PROTECTIVE CIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS
    • H02H9/00Emergency protective circuit arrangements for limiting excess current or voltage without disconnection
    • H02H9/02Emergency protective circuit arrangements for limiting excess current or voltage without disconnection responsive to excess current

Abstract

An overcurrent protection circuit including a first transistor (Q1), a second transistor (Q2), and an integrator (RB, CB). The first transistor (Q1) operates to control a current flow from a power source to a load (11). The second transistor (02) is turned on when an overcurrent flows through tne first transistor (Q1). The overcurrent is detected by watching the collector-emitter voltage of the first transistor (Q1). Thus, the second transistor (Q2) operates to bypass the base current to be supplied to the first transistor (Q1) with a certain delay time defined by a delay part, which enables an instantaneous overcurrent to be ignored.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates to an overcurrent protection circuit and is applicable to an overcurrent protection circuit which can be introduced into a battery feed circuit for line circuits in a switching system.
  • As is well known, an overcurrent protection circuit protects a circuit from abnormally large currents, for example, a load current flowing through the circuit abnormally larger than a rated current therefor. The most typical means for protecting a circuit from abnormally large current is a fuse. A fuse is blown by large currents due to, for example, short-circuits, thereby protecting the circuit from damage. Various other types of overcurrent protection circuits have been proposed and put into practical use.
  • 2. Description of the Related Art
  • Overcurrent protection circuits can be basically classified into two types: fusible types and semiconductor types. An overcurrent protection circuit of the latter type, i.e., the semiconductor type, is fabricated with transistors. Known transistor-type overcurrent protection circuits offer dual protection against large currents, first by limiting the current and second by breaking the current.
  • However, there are problems in prior art overcurrent protection circuits. Transistor-type circuits inevitably consume power and are not so easy to make compactly and unexpensively since they must withstand the heat caused by short-circuits. The fusible type circuits in turn must be replaced each time a short-circuit occurs. This means that many fuses must be stocked. Further, a window must be provided to allow determination of the fuse state. Furthermore, the overall design of the equipment must be such as to allow easy replacement of fuses.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • An object of the present invention is to provide an improved overcurrent protection circuit substantially free of the problems of the prior art.
  • To attain the above object, the overcurrent protection circuit according to the present invention basically includes a first transistor, a second transistor, and a delay part. The first transistor operates to control a current flow from a power source to a load. The second transistor is turned on in response to a collector-emitter voltage VCE of the first transistor and thereby turns the first transistor off. The delay part operates to turn on the second transistor after a predetermined delay time.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The above object and features of the present invention will be more apparent from the following description of the preferred embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:
    • Fig. 1 is a circuit diagram of one example of a prior art overcurrent protection circuit of a current limiting type;
    • Fig. 2 is a graph depicting a relationship between a load current I and an output voltage V of the overcurrent protection circuit of Fig. 1;
    • Fig. 3 is a circuit diagram of another example of a prior art overcurrent protection circuit of a current limiting type;
    • Fig. 4 is a graph depicting a relationship between a load current Io and an output voltage V0 of the overcurrent protection circuit of Fig. 3;
    • Fig. 5 is a circuit diagram of one example of a prior art overcurrent protection circuit of a current breaking type;
    • Fig. 6 is a circuit diagram of an overcurrent protection circuit according to a basic embodiment of the present invention;
    • Fig. 7 is a graph displaying voltage-current characteristics of the overcurrent limiting part shown in Fig. 6;
    • Fig. 8 is a graph exhibiting breaking characteristics produced by the overcurrent protection circuit according to the present invention;
    • Fig. 9 is a circuit diagram of an overcurrent protection circuit having a backup part according to a first application embodiment of the present invention;
    • Fig. 10 is a circuit diagram of an overcurrent protection circuit having a first type of backup part according to a second application embodiment of the present invention;
    • Fig. 11 is a circuit diagram of an overcurrent protection circuit having a second type of backup part according to the second application embodiment of the present invention;
    • Fig. 12 is a circuit diagram of an overcurrent protection circuit having a third type of backup part according to a second application embodiment of the present invention;
    • Fig. 13 is a circuit diagram of an overcurrent protection circuit having a first type of backup part according to a third application embodiment of the present invention;
    • Fig. 14 is a circuit diagram of an overcurrent protection circuit having a second type of backup part according to a third application embodiment of the present invention; and
    • Fig. 15 is one example of a telephone switching system to which the overcurrent protection circuit of the present invention is adapted.
    DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • Before describing the embodiments of the present invention, the prior art and the problems therein will be first described with reference to the related figures. For easy comprehension, the following explanations will be primarily made by taking as an example an overcurrent protection circuit used in a telephone exchange system.
  • As well known, a fuse is inserted into a line in series therewith. On the other hand, known transistor type overcurrent protection circuits are as follows.
  • Figure 1 is a circuit diagram of an example of a prior art overcurrent protection circuit of a current limiting type. The overcurrent protection circuit 10 of the figure is used as, for example, a protector for a battery feed circuit in a switching system. In figure, reference numeral 11 represents a load such as telephone terminal equipment, RL a resistance of a subscriber line, Vi an input voltage, and V an output voltage.
  • The overcurrent protection circuit 10 is comprised of, as illustrated, a transistor Q, diodes D1 and D2 , and resistors RB and RS , and operates, when the load current value exceeds a predetermined threshold value, to limit the load current at a constant level.
  • Figure 2 is a graph depicting a relationship between a load current Io and an output voltage Vo of the overcurrent protection circuit of Fig. 1. As will noted from the graph, when the load current value exceeds a predetermined threshould value IOM due to a short-circuit, for example, the load current thereover is suppressed to lower than a constant value Ios.
  • Figure 3 is a circuit diagram of another example of a prior art overcurrent protection circuit of a current limiting type. The overcurrent protection circuit 20 is known as a "holdback" type. This type of overcurrent protection circuit 20 is comprised of two transistors Q1 and Q2 and four resistors R1 , R2, RS and R and operates, when the load current exceeds a predetermined value, to reduce the load current.
  • Figure 4 is a graph de sing a relationship between a load current I and an output voltage Vo of the overcurrent protection circuit of Fig. 3. As will be noted from the graph, once the load current value exceeds a predetermined threshold value IOM , the load current is pulled down thereafter to a constant value IOS which is lower than the value IOM.
  • Figure 5 is a circuit diagram of one example of a prior art overcurrent protection circuit of a current breaking type. The overcurrent protection circuit 30 of this type includes, as illustrated, a transistor Q, a thyristor T, a diode D, resistors RB and RS , and a reset switch RST and operates first to turn on the thyristor T by an overcurrent due to, for example, a short-circuit, and then turn off the transistor Q, whereby the overcurrent is broken at the transistor Q. The thus broken load current can be released by placing the reset switch RST on to turn off the thyristor T and, accordingly, turn on the transistor Q again.
  • As briefly mentioned before, there are problems in the prior art overcurrent protection circuits. Regarding the insertion power loss, the overcurrent protection circuits 10 and 20 shown in Figs. 1 and 3 both consume power since the transistor Q and the resistor RS are inserted into and in series with the line for carrying the load current. This insertion power loss reduces the efficiency of battery feed by a battery feed circuit. To be specific, assuming that the collector-emitter voltage (VCE) of the transistor Q is 0.2 V, the base-emitter vcltage (VBE) thereof is 0.6 V, load current carried thereby is 100 mA, and voltage, detected when an overcurrent occurs, across the resistor R connected in series with the line is 0.8 V, the insertion power loss concerned becomes 160 (= 1.6 V x 100 mA) mW. The above-mentioned insertion power loss due to the insertion of the overcurrent protection circuit (10, 20) thereinto is equivalent to shortning of the subscriber line by 57 m, assuming that the resistor having the resistance value RL of the subscriber line is 0.28 n/m, which is given from the equation:
    Figure imgb0001
    It should be recognized that a shortening of the line by 57 m means a considerably large economic loss. A length of 57 m is not negligible relative to a length of 500 m, which is the maximum length of a subscriber line in an usual private branch exchange (PBX).
  • The above-mentioned insertion power loss is also inevitable in the overcurrent protection circuit 30 shown in Fig. 5.
  • The problems in the prior art can be easily solved by the overcurrent protection circuit according to the present invention, which basically includes a first transistor operative to control a current flow from a power source to a load; a second transistor operative to be turned on in response to a collector-emitter voltage (VCE) of the first transistor; and a delay part operative to receive the collector-emitter voltage (VCE), create a delay time relative to the change thereof, and turn on the second transistor after the thus created delay time.
  • Figure 6 is a circuit diagram of an overcurrent protection circuit according to a basic embodiment of the present invention. In Fig. 6, the resistor having the resistance value RL of the subscriber line and also the load 12 (illustrated in the form of an equivalent circuit representing the aforesaid telephone terminal equipment) are already explained. The overcurrent protection circuit 40 of the basic embodiment is constructed, as its major part, with an overcurrent limiting part 41. The part 41 is preferably provided with a backup (BU) part 42, shown by broken lines in the figure. The backup part 42 cooperates with ;the overcurrent limiting part 41 so as to back up the operation thereof (mentioned in detail hereinafter).
  • Looking first at the overcurrent limiting part 41, the part 41 is comprised of a first transistor Q1 , a second transistor Q2 , and a delay part. The first transistor Q1 operates to control a flow of a load current Io supplied from a power source to the load 11. The power source is illustrated in the figure as a battery of -24 V. The second transistor Q2 operates to be turned on in response to the collector-emitter voltage (VCE) of the first transistor Q1. The delay part operates, in general, to create a delay time relative to the change of the collector-emitter voltage (VCE) and turn on the second transistor Q2. To be more specific, the delay part can be set up in the form of an integrator which integrates the voltage (VCE). The integrator can be constructed by various types of circuits, such as a so-called CR integrator or an integrator with the use of an operational amplifier. According to the basic embodiment, the integrator is fabricated, as the CR type, with both a capacitor CB and a resistor RB. The integrator CR (CB and RB) produces an output to be applied to the second transistor Q2 at its base. The second transistor Q2 is connected with the base of the first transistor Q1, and is operative to bypass the related base current directly to its emitter. That is, the second transistor Q2 functions to take away the base current IB to be inherently supplied, via a resistor RS, to the first transistor Q1 at its base.
  • The base current IB is selected so as to work the first transistor Q1 sufficiently in a saturation region during its normal operation. In short, a suitable resistor RS is selected first. During the operation in the saturation region, the collector-emitter voltage VCE (SAT), i.e., a saturation voltage between the collector and emitter thereof, varies in a range of about 0.1 V to 0.4 V. Under such a low voltage VCE(SAT) , the second transistor Q2 cannot be turned on. In this case, the power loss at the first transistor Q1 is small.
  • However, in the event of a short-circuit occurring at the side of the load 11, viewed form, for example, terminals T1 and T2 , an overcurrent flows to the subscriber line, which overcurrent greatly exceeds a usual load current in magnitude. When the first.transistor Q1 carries such an overcurrent, it works not in the above-mentioned saturation region, but in an active region. In the active region, the voltage VCE of the first transistor Q1 increases proportionally along with the increase of the overcurrent. For example, when the overcurrent is I1 or I2 (I1 < I2), the voltage VCE is increased by an incremental voltage ΔVCE1 or ΔVCE2 (ΔVCE1 < ΔVCE2), respectively. This being so, the voltage level VCE (SAT) + ΔVCE1 (or VCE (SAT) + ΔVCE2) exceeds the base-emitter voltage VBE(Q2) of the second transistor Q2, whereby the second transistor Q2 is turned from off to on. Once the second transistor Q2 is changed even slightly into its on-state, the base current IB to be given to the first transistor Q1 is partically bypassed to the second transistor Q2. Therefore, the base current IB to be given to the transistor Q1 is slightly reduced.
  • The thus slightly reduced current of the current IB then causes a further increment in the voltage VCE of the transistor Q1. By this incremental voltage VCE' the larger the voltage VCE of the transistor Q1 , the deeper the transistor Q2 enters into its on state and, on the other hand, the smaller the current IB for the transistor Q1. Then thus smaller current IB makes the VCE of the transistor Q1 larger, whereby the transistor Q2 is brought completely into the on state. As a result, the supply of the current IB is broken completely. Consequently, the overcurrent can be sufficiently suppressed and reaches substantially zero.
  • As recongnized from the above, the turning off of the transistor Q1 and the turning on of the transistor Q2 are controlled in a positive feedback relation. Accordingly, the overcurrent can be broken without error. In this case, the change in the transistor Q2 from the off to on state and the change in the transistor Q1 from the on to off state are both completed in a very short time. Therefore, the first transistor Q1 is left in the active region a very short time. This means that, although an excessive current flows through the first transistor Q1 (but lower in magnitude than a current given, in the transistor Q1 , as β x IB, where B denotes a DC current gain), the first transistor Q1 is not required to have a severe heat withstanding characteristic, since the time in which the excessive current flows is very short. In other words, the first transistor Q1 does not have to be of a high cost type.
  • Further, once the second transistor Q2 is turned on (while the transistor Q1 is turned off), the transistor Q2 maintains the on state as it is. This is because the transistor Q2 cannot switch to its off state by itself. That is, once an overcurrent occurs, the transistor Q1 is held off (i.e. cut-off region) and, at the same time, the transistor Q2 is held on (i.e., saturation region), so long as no external control for the release is effected thereto. Therefore, any heat generation therein during a short-circuit is very small. Accordingly, the related overcurrent protection circuit can be made small in size, which is preferable from an economical viewpoint.
  • In the event of a short-circuit, the overcurrent protection circuit is kept in a braking state. According to one of the merits of the present invention, the overcurrent protection circuit thus kept in the braking state can easily and simply be released merely by a momentary unplugging operation of the load 11 having the short-circuit so that the base current is stopped from being supplied to the second transistor Q2 and thus the transistors Q1 and Q2 are automatically restored to their initial states. Therefore, when the faulty load 11 is replaced with a normal one, the transistors Q1 and Q2will restart the usual current supply with overcurrent protection.
  • Referring again to the integrator CR in the overcurrent limiting part 41, the integrator CR can simulate the characteristic of a usual fuse. As well known, a fuse generally does not respond to momentary overcurrents. In other words, a fuse does not blow even if any overcurrent exceeding a predetermined magnitude flows so long as it only flows within a certain time duration. This characteristic of ordinary fuses is very advantageous for overcurrent protection, particularly in a battery feed circuit of a telephone switching system.
  • In Fig. 6, the block bound by the terminals T1, T2, T3, and T4 forms, a part of line circuits in a telephone switching system. When new telephone terminals (loads 11) are incorporated into the switching system, new line circuit packages for the same are plugged in these terminals T1 through T4. The plug-in motion causes a rush current, which is generated to initially charge capacitive components, such as an equivalent capacitor contained in each load 11, stray capacities, and the like. This rush current usually reaches several times the usual load current in magnitude, however the rush current does not flow continually, as does the usual load current, but momentarily.
  • It will be noted that the aforesaid integrator CR is useful in that it can disregard such a rush current selectively, i.e., the integrator CR is not responsive to the rush current.
  • The integrator CR is also useful when a momentary overcurrent flows even when a maintenance worker erroneously and momentarily touches, with a tool, terminals of a main distribution frame (MDF). In this case, the overcurrent protection circuit of the present invention should preferably not respond to such a momentary overcurrent. It should respond selectively only to continual overcurrent, such as a current due to a short-circuit, and selectively break such a continual overcurrent with the aid of the integrator CR. Further, a time constant (T) can freely be determined to suitably set a timing for turning on the second transistor Q2. The time constant (T) is defined, as known, by the capacitance value of the capacitor CB and/or the resistance value of the resistor RB.
  • Figure 7 is a graph displaying the voltage-current characteristics of the overcurrent limiting part 41 shown in Fig. 6. The graph is convenient to comprehend, at a glance, the relationship of the components, such overcurrents I1 , I2 , the collector-emitter voltage VCE(SAT) , the related incremental voltages ΔVCE1 , ΔVCE2 , the base-emitter voltage VBE(Q2) of the second transistor Q2, and the base current IB of the first transistor Q1, which were mentioned with respect to the brief explanation of the operation of the overcurrent limiting part 41. The character In in Fig. 7 denotes a rated current of the limiting part 41.
  • The operation of the overcurrent limiting port 41 will be explained in more detail. The total resistance value Rr can be expressed by the following inequation given in (1), which Rr is the value at the side of the load 11, viewed from the treminals T1 and T2 (shown in Fig. 6), and the overcurrent limiting part 41 can detect and break an overcurrent with that value of R satisfying the inequation (1).
    Figure imgb0002
    Where the meanings of the characters VCE(SAT)' VBE(Q2), IB , and a have already been explained, while E denotes a power source voltage, i.e., the absolute value of -24 V shown in Fig. 6.
  • In the event of a short-circuit, a delay time Toff is approximated by the following expression (2), which delay time Toff is defined as the duration from the short-circuit concerned to breakage of the overcurrent:
    Figure imgb0003
    Where, the time constant τ, VCE(Q1) , and ΔVBE(Q2) are respectively defined by the following expressions (3) , (4), and (5).
    Figure imgb0004
    Figure imgb0005
    Figure imgb0006
  • Substituting the following specific values into the expressions: E=24V, VCE(SAT) - 0.2 V, VBE(Q2) = 0.7 V, β = 210, IB = 1.2 mA, RB = 200 KΩ and CB = 10 µF, the resistance value Rr(Ω) is obtained, from the above recited inequation (1), to be in a range of:
  • 91 > Rr ≥ 0 (6) and the delay time Toff (sec) is obtained, from the above recited expression (2), to be:
    Figure imgb0007
  • Figure 8 is a graph exhibiting breaking characteristics produced by the overcurrent protection circuit according to the present invention. The abscissa of the graph indicates the time delay Toff with graduations in logarithm readings, and the ordinate indicates both the total resistance value R and the load current r Io, separately. It should be noted here that the character IS indicates a virtual current representing the total resistance value R which is transformed into a current value. As understood from the graph, the time required for breaking the overcurrent is made long or short along with an increase or decrease of the overcurrent, respectively, and therefore, this characteristic resembles that of a fuse. Note here that, in the graph, the curve Toff represents a curve obtained from the above recited expression (2), wherein the time constant τ is preset as 2 sec. Further, the curves τ1 and τ2 are obtained by plotting actually measured data, where the time constants are preset as τ = 1 sec and T = 2 sec, respectively.
  • Referring again to Fig. 6, the backup part 42 functions to perform the operations which cannot be performed by the overcurrent limiting part 41 itself. What operation is to be performed is suitably determined according to a desired use of the overcurrent protection circuit, as exemplified by the following application embodiments, which embodiments are based on the basic embodiment (Fig. 6). Although each of the application embodiments will be explained independently, combinations of these are, of course, possible.
  • Figure 9 is a circuit diagram of an overcurrent protection circuit having a backup part according to a first application embodiment of the present invention. It should be noted that, throughout the drawings, idencial members are represented by the identical reference numerals or symbols. An overcurrent protection circuit 5J has a backup part according to the first application embodiment, which is simply fabricated with a capacitor Cs which cooperates with a resistor RS. The capacitor Cs is inserted, as illustrated, between the base and emitter of the first transistor Q1.
  • As mentioned previously, when new loads are to be installed, new corresponding line circuit packages are plugged in at the terminals T1 through T4. In this case, a problem is caused by sparks SP, each schematically illustrated by jagged arrows in the figure. The sparks SP are produced due to the plug-in of the line circuit package at the terminals T1 through T4' The sparks SP not only give deleterious noise to the adjacent line circuit package under operation and thereby induce malfunctions therein, but also damage the terminals T1 through T4 by their heat. The reason for the generation of the sparks SP is that, at the moment of the plug-in, an excessive rush current flows so as to charge the capacitors in the load 11 and along the subscriber line, as stray capacity. Usually, each line circuit package incorporates a plurality of line circuits, for example, eight line circuits, integrally. Therefore, the sparks SP generated at the terminals T1 through T4 become very strong.
  • In view of the above, the backup part (CS) of the first application embodiment operates to inhibit such rush current therethrough for a while when the related line circuit package is plugged in at the terminals T1 through T4. To be specific, at the initial stage where the plug-in operation is a performed, the first transistor Q1 is turned off, but thereafter is turned on. The reason for this delayed turn-on operation is the sparks SPs are only generated with such an excessive rush current during the plug-in operation. To achieve the delay the capacitor CS functions to momentarily absorb the base current IB to be supplied to the first transistor Q1 just after the plug-in operation. That is, the first transistor Q1 cannot be turned on until a predetermined delay time elapses, which delay time is determined by a time constant defined by the resistor RS and the capacitor Cs. Thus, a slow-acting transistor Q1 is realized with the use of the capacitor CS , which forms, together with the resistor RS , another integrator having a time constant (τS), other than the integrator having the time constant (TB). In this case, attention should be paid in determining the two time constants τB (= CB x RB) and τS(= Cs x RS) to satisfy a relationship of TS < τB. If τS is preset to be larger than τB , the inherent function of the integrator would be lost. In actuality, it is preferable to select the values τB and τS to closely satisfy the equation 1 τS = 100 τB.
  • An overcurrent protection circuit having a backup part according to a second application embodiment of the present invention will be described below. The overcurrent protection circuit of the second application embodiment further incorporates a status detector. The status detector operates to indicate whether the overcurrent protection circuit is in an braking state ("off" state) or in a feeding state ("on" state). The status detector basically includes a first light emission device which is connected in series with the collector of the second transistor Q2 and energized when the transistor Q2 is conductive, which light emission indicates the braking state of the overcurrent protection circuit.
  • Figure 10 is a circuit diagram of an overcurrent protection circuit having a first type of backup part according to the second application embodiment of the present invention. In Fig. 10, the aforesaid first light emission device is a light emission diode (LEDl). When the LED1 is lit, the light indicates the "off" state, i.e., braking state, of the overcurrent protection circuit 60. If the overcurrent protection circuit is fabricated with a conventional fuse, the "off" or "on" state can be discriminated by merely observing the fuse itself externally, wherein the burnt out state of the fuse indicates the "off" state. In the telephone switching system, prompt elimination of trouble therefrom is very important to keep the system normal. For prompt elimination, it is necessary to find the faulty line circuit.
  • If a fault occurs in the load 11, the second transistor Q2 is kept on (Q1 is kept off). By utilizing this fact, the first light emission device, i.e., the first LED1, is connected in series with the collector of the second transistor Q2. This being so, if the over- turrent protection circuit 60 is changed to the "off" state, the diode LED1 is lit and thereby the faulty line can be found immediately by watching the light.
  • When the diode LED1 is lit, the first transistor Q1 must not be made on erroneously. This relation can be ensured by canceling the forward voltage of the diode LED-. For this, the diode LED1 preferably cooperates with a Zener diode ZD. The Zener diode ZD is connected in series with the base of the first transistor Q1 and, at the same time, in parallel with the diode LED-.
  • Figure 11 is a circuit diagram of an overcurrent protection circuit having a second type of backup part according to the second application embodiment of the present invention. In the second type of backup part, the aforesaid status detector further includes a second light emission device which indicates, when lit, the "on" state, i.e., the feeding state, of the overcurrent protection circuit 70. Specifically, in Fig. 11, the second light emission device is made of a second light emission diode LED2. The diode LED2 also has the same function as that of the Zener diode ZD shown in Fig. 10.
  • The second diode LED2 is connected in series with the base of the first transistor Q1 and, therefore, energized when the transistor Q1 is conductive during the "on" state, i.e., the working state of the overcurrent protection circuit 70.
  • Figure 12 is a circuit diagram of an overcurrent protection circuit having a third type of backup part according to the second application embodiment of the present invention. The third type of backup part operates to issue a detected status indication signal or signals outside in response to the aforesaid light emission device or devices. The status indication signal is useful for transferring the "on" and "off" state information to a control unit of the telephone switching system concerned. In Fig. 12, the first light emission diode (LEDl) forms a first detector DET1 which issues a first detected status indication signal ST1. The detector DET1 is set up in the form of a photocoupler and produces the signal ST1 when the overcurrent protection circuit 80 is changed to the "off" state. Similarly, the second light emission diode (LED2) forms a second detector DET2 which issues a second detected status indication signal ST2. The detector DET2 is set up in the form of a photocoupler and produces the signal ST2 when the overcurrent protection circuit 80 is put in the "on" state.
  • An overcurrent protection circuit having a backup part according to a third application embodiment of the present invention will be described below. The overcurrent protection circuit of the third application embodiment further incorporates a set/reset controller. The set/reset controller operates to set or reset the overcurrent protection circuit. That is, the set/reset controller can make active or nonactive the overcurrent protection circuit. The words "active" and "nonactive" mean to put the overcurrent protection circuit in the "on" cr "off" state, i.e., the braking or feeding state, respectively.
  • Figure 13 is a circuit diagram of an overcurrent protection circuit having a first type of backup part according to a third application embodiment of the present invention. The set operation part of the aforesaid set/reset controller includes a first switch SWl. The first switch SW1 operates to bypass a current which has been supplied to the base of the second transistor Q2 , so that the transistor Q2 is turned off to assume the "on" state.
  • On the other hand, the reset operation part of the aforesaid set/reset controller including a second switch SW2. The second switch SW2 operates to supply a current to the base of the second transistor Q2 , so that the transistor Q2 is turned on to assume the "off" state.
  • The first and second switches SW1 and SW2 can specifically be made of electronic switches, such as photocouplers, as illustrated.
  • The overcurrent limiting part 41 (refer to Fig. 6) cannot switch to its feeding state by itself, once the first transistor Q1 is turned off (Q2 is turned on), due to the presence of the previously mentioned positive feedback relation between the turning on and the turning off of the first and second transistors Q1 and Q2. When it is required to release the overcurrent protection circuit from the thus kept braking state, according to the previously mentioned method, the load 11 is momentarily unplugged from the subscriber line. However, the overcurrent protection circuit 90 of Fig. 13 needs no such unplugging motion for the load 11, but can be realized by simple control of the switches SW1 and SW2 to turn on or off the first and second transistors Q1 and Q2. This will be clarified by the following explanations.
  • In a first case, some short-circuit has occurred. Therefore, the second transistor Q2 is now on, while the first transistor Q1 is now off. At this time, a maintenance worker repairs the faulty part concerned. When the faulty part is restored, he restarts the battery feed. In this case, the restart operation is performed, in the circuit of Fig. 13, by externally supplying a first pulse P1 in order to make the first switch SW1 on. The switch SW1 now on works to break the base current to be given to the second transistor Q2. Thus, the transistor Q2 is turned off. Then, the supply of the base current to the first transistor Ql restarts due to the turning off of the second transistor Q2. The first transistor Q1 is thus turned on, so that the battery feed can restart. The thus restarted battery feed is maintained as is so long as no overcurrent occurs.
  • Contrary to the above, if the maintenance worker wishes to stop the battery feed, a second pulse P2 is externally supplied to the second switch SW2 to make this on. The now on switch SW2 works to turn on the second transistor 02. Accordingly, the base current for the first transistor Q1 is broken to make this off. As a result, the battery feed is stopped, as intended.
  • Figure 14 is a circuit diagram of an overcurrent protection circuit having a second type of backup part according to a third application embodiment of the present invention. The set/reset controller of the second type is comprised of a transfer switch which operates to supply an additional current to the base of the first transistor Q1 to restore the overcurrent protection circuit from the braking state to the feeding state. The overcurrent protection circuit 100 of Fig. 14 is useful for the following reason. As mentioned previously, once a short-circuit occurs and the first transistor Q2 is turned on while the second transistor Q1 is turned off, the aforesaid set operation is performed with a momentary unplugging motion of the load 11 or the overcurrent protection circuit, as a whole, from the line to be protected, in case the related short-circuit is momentary, not sustained. During the unplugging and plug-in motion of the overcurrent protection circuit, noise is generated at the plug-in and unplugging portions. The noise grates on the subscriber's ear. Further, such noise is serious in view of line quality, in case the related switching system works as a digital data switching system. That is, the noise concerned induces data errors.
  • The above-mentioned noise occurring during the unplugging and plug in motion can be greatly suppressed with the use of the transfer switch. The transfer switch is referenced by TS in the set operation part, indicated by broken lines SO of the aforesaid set/reset controller. The transfer switch TS cooperates with both a resistor Rx and a capacitor Cx. The resistor Rx and the capacitor Cx are connected in parallel with each other and are connected at the ground line side of the subscriber line. The transfer switch TS assumes a first switch state and a second switch state . During the first switch state , the transfer switch TS functions to discharge the capacitor Cx. This corresponds to a usual state. When the set operation is needed, the transfer switch TS is changed to assume the second switch state . At this time, a charging current flows from the positive end of the battery (-24 V) to the base of the first transistor Q1 via the capacitor Cx, the contact () of the switch TS, a resistor, and a diode D2. Thereby, the transistor Q1 is turned on, and the load current reflows. In this case, the collector-emitter voltage VCE of the transistor Q1 is substantially zero, and, therefore, the second transistor Q2 is maintained off automatically.
  • The set operation mentioned above can also be realized in a reverse mode. That is, first, the capacitor Cx is precharged through the resistor Rx via the contact () of the switch TS, and, then, the thus precharged capacitor Cx functions to turn on the first transistor Q1. In the above mode, the right end of the capacitor Cx should not be connected to the ground line, as illustrated, but should be connected to the negative end of the battery (-24 V).
  • The transfer switch TS does not have to be mounted for each overcurrent protection circuit, but can be mounted commonly for a plurality of overcurrent protection circuits, as illustrated in Fig. 14, from an economical viewpoint. In this case, the additional current given from the transfer switch TS is effective only to one or more overcurrent protection circuits in the braking state. Thus, the remaining working overcurrent protection circuits ignore such an additional current.
  • The above-mentioned second embodiment (Figs. 10, 11, and 12) and third embodiment (Figs. 13 and 14) are useful for a microcomputer controlled system, since the overcurrent protection circuits according to the second and third embodiments can issue "on"/"off" state information outside or receive "on"/"off" commands given from outside, both in the form of electric signals suitable for the microcomputer. This enables automation of maintenance and management and also remote control.
  • Figure 15 is one example of a telephone switching system to which the overcurrent protection circuit of the present invention is adapted. Reference numeral 11 represents the aforesaid load, i.e., telephone terminal equipment, specifically, a future multiple functions telephones ("future phone"). A line 101, connected to the load 11, corresponds to the line having the aforesaid resistors R L , which works as a battery feed line and a control line, simultaneously. A line 102 works as a speech path line carrying voice and/or data signals. These lines 101 and 102 are connected, at their other ends, tc an exchanger 103. The exchanger 103 contains therein at least an interface card 104 and a speech path and control unit. The overcurrent protection circuit OVC (referenced before as 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100) of the present invention is accommodated, as a block 105, in the interface card 104, by way of the terminals T1 through T 4.
  • Both a choke coil CC and a capacitor CP in the load 12 form a low-pass filter which connects with a DC/DC converter (CONV). The converter receives power of 24 V and converts it to 5 V power, which is suitable for the speech circuit, the control circuit and so on, usually made of complementary metal-oxide semiconductor integrated circuits (CMOS/IC), in the figure, each character Tr denotes a transformer for impedance matching.
  • As explained above in detail, according to the present invention, the base current of the first transistor, operative to control the flow of the load current, is bypassed to turn on the second transistor, operative to cut off the first transistor, with the use of the output voltage produced from the integrator.
  • Accordingly, the second transistor operates to be turned on with a delay time defined by the time constant of the integrator. Therefore, the second transistor can be turned on with no malfunctions even in a change of the load current. This resembles one of the advantageous characteristics of a fuse. The first and second transistors maintain, respectively, off and on states, once an overcurrent flows through the first transistor. This resembles another of the advantageous characteristics of a fuse.
  • Further, the breaking time of the overcurrent can freely be preset by suitably setting the time constant of the integrator. Furthermore, although the collector power dissipation of the first transistor is large when it works in its active region due to the transient current or the overcurrent, the heat caused thereby is not so high, because the first transistor does not work in the active region over the time specified by the time constant of the integrator. This enables a highly dense package of various circuits.
  • Further, the overcurrent protection circuit of the present invention is economical from the viewpoint that the circuit can be fabricated by transistors with small collector power dissipations. This is because, in general, a transistor can tolerate a maximum collector power dissipation, under very short use, as high as 10 times or more the maximum collector power dissipation tolerable under continuous use.
  • Furthermore, the first transistor, provided with a capacitor between its base and emitter, has the advantage, because the capacitor absorbs a rush current, that no sparks are generated at the terminals, when the related package is plugged in, even if the circuit is being energized, and, therefore, there is no damage of the terminals by sparks and no deleterious influence to adjacent packages due to noise. This enables easy maintenance of the system, particularly when new subscriber lines and their line circuits are installed.

Claims (22)

1. An overcurrent protection circuit (40), characterized by:
a first transistor (Q1) operative to control a current flow from a power source to a load (11);
a second transistor (Q2) operative to be turned on in response to a collector-emitter voltage (VCE) of the first transistor (Q1); and
a delay part (CB,RB) operative to receive the collector-emitter voltage (VCE), create a delay time relative to the change thereof, and turn on the second transistor (Q2) after the thus created delay time.
2. A circuit as set forth in claim 1, wherein said second transistor (Q2) is connected with the base of said first transistor (Q1) so as to bypass the related base current directly to its emitter side, when the second transistor is turned on, whereby the first transistor(Q1) is turned off.
3. A circuit as set forth in claim 2, wherein said delay part is an integrator.
4. A circuit as set forth in claim 3, wherein said integrator is fabricated witn both a capacitor(CB) and a resistor (RB), so that said delay time is determined by a time constant (τ) defined by the capacitance value of the capacitor and/or the resistance value of the resistor, adapted to obtain a desired on-timing of said second transistor (Q2).
5. A circuit as set forth in claim 4, wherein said first transistor (Q1) is provided with both a capacitor (CS) inserted between the base and the emitter thereof and a resistor (RS) to be connected in series with this base to form another integrator having a time constant (τS), the time constant (τS) being selected so as to satisfy the relationship τS < τB , where τB denotes a time constant of said integrator working as said delay part.
6. A circuit as set forth in claim 1, wherein the relationship between said time constants τS and τB closely satisfies an equation τS = 1 100 τB.
7. A circuit as set forth in claim 2, further incorporating a status detector (LED1), the status detector operative to indicate whether the overcurrent protection circuit is in an idle state or in a working state.
8. A circuit as set forth in claim 7, wherein said status detector comprises a first light emission device (LED ) which is connected-in series with the collector of said second transistor (Q2) and energized when the second transistor (Q2) is conductive during the idle state of the overcurrent protection circuit.
9. A circuit as set forth in claim 8, wherein said status detector further comprises a second light emission device (LED2) which is connected in series with the base of said first transistor (Q1) and energized when the first transistor (Q1) is conductive during the working state of the overcurrent protection circuit.
10. A circuit as set forth in claim 8, wherein said first light emission device is made of a light emission diode and cooperates with a Zener diode (ZD) connected in series with the base of said first transistor (R1) and at the same time in parallel with the light emission diode.
11. A circuit as set forth in claim 8, where-n said status detector is operative to issue a first detected status indication signal outside in respcnse to said first light emission device by means of a first photocoupler (DET1).
12. A circuit as set forth in claim 9, wherein said status detector is operative to issue a second detected status indication signal outside in response to said second light emission device by means of a second photocoupler (DET2).
13. A circuit as set forth in claim 10, wherein said status detector is operative to issue a detected status indication signal outside in response to said first light emission diode by means of a photocoupler (DET1).
14. A circuit as set forth in claim 2, further incorporating a set/reset controller (SW1), the set/reset controller operative to set or reset the overcurrent protection circuit, i.e., to make active or nonactive the overcurrent protection circuit.
15. A circuit as set forth in claim 14, wherein the set operation part of said set/reset controller comprises a first switch (SW ) operative to bypass a current which has been, supplied to the base of said second transistor (Q2) so as to turn off this transistor.
16. A circuit as set forth in claim 14, wherein the reset operation part of said set/reset controller comprises a second switch (SW2) operative to supply a current to the base of said second transistor(Q2) so as to turn on this transistor.
17. A circuit as set forth in claim 14, wherein the set operation part of said set/reset controller is comprised of a transfer switch (TS) operative to supply an additional current to the base of said first transistor (Q1).
18. A circuit as set forth in claim 15, wherein said first switch is formed as an electronic switch able to be turned on or off under control of a signal given from outside.
19. A circu-t as set forth in claim 16, wherein said second switct is formed as an electronic switch able to be turned on or off under control of a signal given from outside.
20. A circuit as set forth in claim 17, wherein said transfer switch cooperates with both a setting resistor (RX) and a setting capacitor (Cx) , the transfer switch (TS), during a first switch state, operates to discharge or precharge the setting capacitor(C ) through the setting resistor (Rx) and, during a second switch state, operates to supply the charges with the aid of the setting capacitor (CX), to the base, as said additional current, of said first transistor (Q1).
21. A circuit as set forth in claim 17, wherein a single said transfer switch is mounted commonly for a plurality of said overcurrent protection circuits.
22. A circuit as set forth in claim 14, wherein the set operation by said set/reset controller is equivalently performed with a momentary unplugging motion of the overcurrent protection circuit, as a whole, from the line to be protected, in the event that the related short-circuit is momentarily not sustained.
EP85108366A 1984-07-05 1985-07-05 Overcurrent protection circuit Expired - Lifetime EP0167172B1 (en)

Priority Applications (6)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
JP137966/84 1984-07-05
JP59137966A JPH0522452B2 (en) 1984-07-05 1984-07-05
JP140921/84 1984-07-06
JP59140921A JPS6122717A (en) 1984-07-06 1984-07-06 Overcurrent protecting circuit
JP140922/84 1984-07-06
JP59140922A JPS6122718A (en) 1984-07-06 1984-07-06 Overcurrent protecting circuit

Publications (3)

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EP0167172A2 true EP0167172A2 (en) 1986-01-08
EP0167172A3 EP0167172A3 (en) 1987-07-22
EP0167172B1 EP0167172B1 (en) 1991-10-30

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EP85108366A Expired - Lifetime EP0167172B1 (en) 1984-07-05 1985-07-05 Overcurrent protection circuit

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US (1) US4661879A (en)
EP (1) EP0167172B1 (en)
KR (1) KR900001783B1 (en)
CA (1) CA1253915A (en)
DE (1) DE3584541D1 (en)

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Also Published As

Publication number Publication date
KR900001783B1 (en) 1990-03-24
CA1253915A1 (en)
EP0167172A3 (en) 1987-07-22
KR860001508A (en) 1986-02-26
DE3584541D1 (en) 1991-12-05
US4661879A (en) 1987-04-28
EP0167172B1 (en) 1991-10-30
CA1253915A (en) 1989-05-09

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